Farmers’ organisation leader and MP Raju Shetty put the blame of the current deadlock between sugarcane farmers and co-operative sugar factory owners on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar. Stating that they had been pressuring other factory owners and holding them back from initiating dialogue with the protesting farmers, Mr. Shetty has placed the onus of solving the current problem directly on the NCP.

Mr. Shetty, leader of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, was released on conditional bail on Friday evening after his arrest on Monday. He is now prohibited from entering Indapur, Baramati, and Daund where the protests have turned violent. Mr. Shetty has been leading the sugarcane farmers’ agitation for a higher price over the last two weeks, demanding a higher price for sugarcane.

“Many factories are ready for a dialogue. But the Pawars are not letting them hold talks, for their own benefit,” Mr. Shetty said, adding that sugar factories owned by Ajit Pawar have been consistently paying farmers less in the past. “They only want to loot the farmers,” he stated, speaking to reporters outside the Yerwada Jail.

Mr. Shetty’s statement comes as a terse reply to Sharad Pawar, who had stated earlier in the week that Mr. Shetty was targeting factories owned only by Maratha people, and not those of his own caste in Kolhapur.